BATON ROUGE - The LSU School of Music announced today that Donald McKinney has been named Director of Wind Ensembles and Conducting.
Along with McKinney's appointment, the School of Music also announced that Associate Director of Bands Roy King has been named Director of Athletic Bands.
"I am pleased to accept the position at LSU and join the School of Music faculty," McKinney said. "LSU and its School of Music are nationally respected institutions, and I look forward to being a part of this creative environment."
McKinney officially takes over the position formerly held by longtime LSU Director of Bands Frank Wickes, who retired in 2010 after 30 years of service at LSU, although, as part of a reorganization effort within the school's Department of Bands, McKinney will not serve as director of the LSU Tiger Marching Band.
"Dr. McKinney will be focused solely on the directorship of the LSU Wind Ensemble and the coordination and supervision of all academic matters in the band area," said Willis Delony, interim director of the LSU School of Music. "In particular, he will be the major professor for all master's and doctoral students majoring in wind conducting, and will be teaching all graduate level wind conducting and wind literature courses."
According to Delony, for the past several years, the actual direction and coordination of all athletic band activity has been carried out by associate directors, as Wickes concentrated on the directorship of the Wind Ensemble and graduate level teaching. This past year, Roy King, previously the associate director of bands, assumed the directorship of the Tiger Band and all other athletic band activities.
"In recognition both of Roy's huge success in this area, as well as the ever increasing workload of this position, we believed it appropriate to remove the word 'associate' from his title and create a new one commensurate with his duties and responsibilities," Delony said.
The appointments mark the beginning of a new era for the LSU School of Music, he added.
"The modern day configuration of large university band departments at a large university's school of music has evolved from the old model that featured a single director who was in charge of all concert and marching activities," Delony said. "In today's university band world, the two jobs are typically distinct and held by two different faculty members. Dr. McKinney brings to us new ideas, enormous talent, enthusiasm and the much-needed freedom to focus on the directorship of our elite Wind Ensemble, along with our graduate conducting programs. This model builds on the structure Professor Wickes developed during his last few years as director of bands. It allows our band program to pursue new artistic possibilities while continuing to stand out as one the finest overall programs in the country."
Laurence Kaptain, dean of the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts, said McKinney's selection came after a two-year search by a committee comprised of LSU alumni, faculty and an undergraduate student.
"Dr. McKinney will join Director of Athletic Bands Roy King and the other faculty in the LSU School of Music to advance the quality and traditions of excellence established over the years for the band program at LSU," Kaptain said. "As dean of the College of Music and Dramatic Arts, I look forward to his arrival on campus and a new chapter of national leadership among elite band programs in the nation."
During the interview process, Kaptain said, McKinney and the other finalists spent an entire week rehearsing with the school's instrumental performance groups, interacting with students and faculty and conducting a public concert.
"He obviously made a strong impression on the entire community at LSU," Kaptain said of McKinney.
Prior to his appointment at LSU, McKinney served as director of band activities for Michigan-based Interlochen Center for the Arts, where he conducted the Interlochen Arts Academy Band, coached chamber music and taught courses in conducting. In 2011, he co-hosted a new music festival that featured composer Steven Stucky. McKinney will continue a relationship with Interlochen as coordinator of the Interlochen Arts Camp summer band program, where he is a guest conductor for the World Youth Wind Symphony and Interlochen Symphony Band.
From 2004 to 2007, McKinney was the associate conductor of ensembles at the Duquesne University Mary Pappert School of Music, where he assisted with the wind ensembles, orchestra and opera workshop. He was also the assistant conductor to violinist and conductor Sidney Harth and was responsible for teaching courses in undergraduate conducting. After participating in the Second Frederick Fennell Conducting Masterclass, he was named a finalist for the 2011 Thelma A. Robinson Award by the Conductors Guild.
McKinney has published articles in three volumes of the journal Teaching Music through Performance's Band series. For the same project, he has performed for three recordings with the University of North Texas Wind Symphony. He has also authored a chapter about composer Jennifer Higdon for the book, "Women of Influence in Contemporary Music."
As part of the 2011 College Band Directors National Association Conference in Seattle, McKinney presented a session on the wind music of George Antheil. His recording credits include projects with the University of Michigan Symphony Band, University of North Texas Wind Symphony, Keystone Wind Ensemble and the Duquesne University Wind Symphony.
McKinney received a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Duquesne University, a Master of Music in Conducting from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from the University of Michigan. His primary conducting teachers include Michael Haithcock, Jack Stamp, Robert Cameron and additional study with H. Robert Reynolds and Frank Battisti. He maintains active memberships in College Band Directors National Association, Conductors Guild, and Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association.
"The LSU Department of Bands has a long tradition of musical excellence, and it is my goal to respect these traditions and look toward the future with exciting projects and initiatives," McKinney said. "Our students should be exposed to a variety of musical experiences that will prepare them for a successful career in an ever-changing artistic environment. In the future, it is my goal to commission new works from composers, release recordings with the LSU Wind Ensemble and perform at national conventions. These experiences will be designed to showcase the excellence and diversity that exist at LSU."
McKinney is currently conducting at Interlochen Arts Camp this summer, and is scheduled to arrive in Baton Rouge during the second week of August. His first performance with the LSU Wind Ensemble is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 20.
For more information on the LSU School of Music, visit www.music.lsu.edu.